Novak Djokovic bounced back from his shock early defeat by Dan Evans in Monte Carlo last week with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Kwon Soon-woo to reach the Serbian Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The world No 1, warming up for the start of the French Open next month, will face fellow home hope Miomir Kecmanovic in the last eight.
It was plain sailing for Djokovic, whose loss to Evans was his first of the season, as he won in only an hour and 10 minutes. It was his first appearance in his home town since 2011, with this the first ATP event in Belgrade since 2012.
“It gives you an extra push, an extra motivation, energy to really give your best and leave it all out on the court,” Djokovic told atptour.com of playing on home soil.
“I think also that made me feel comfortable and confident on the court and I played really good. I’m really pleased with the quality of tennis.”
The 33-year-old’s Australian Open triumph earlier this year took him within two of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s joint all-time record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.
He will be bidding for a second Roland Garros crown when the clay-court major gets underway on May 30, having suffered a straight-sets thrashing by old rival Nadal in the 2020 final.
Djokovic cruised into a 6-1, 5-2 lead against world number 85 Kwon without facing a break point.
The South Korean broke the top seed when he served for the match, but Djokovic quashed any hopes of an unlikely comeback by breaking to love to secure a comfortable win.
“I thought I played very well from the very beginning, except that service game that I lost at 5-2 in the second (set),” Djokovic added. “I thought it was a pretty flawless performance.”
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) 6-1, 6-3
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB x8) bt Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Filip Krajinovic (SRB x5) bt Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 6-1, 6-1
Matteo Berrettini (ITA x2) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4, 6-3